Sunday, April 15, 2012

2012 DSS Bird Race

Grey-headed Bullfinch
I attended the 2012 Dasyueshan Bird Race this past weekend. It was very well run, and much enjoyed by all involved. Many thanks to the organizers - primarily the Chinese (Taiwan) Wild Bird Federation and Dongshr Forest Bureau.

Next year’s (2013) race has been penciled in for Friday/Saturday April 26/27th. International teams are warmly welcomed. Also in November this (2012) year, the Taiwan Ecotourism Association and the SW Coast Administration will be holding a bird race in Chaiyi, Yulin and Tainan counties. I will update this post when I have further details.

Easy birding...
Last weekend’s race range was from the 0km mark at  (lowland) Dongshr Town to (2300 meters elevation) Tienchr Pond near the 50km mark - thus a good range of low/mid/high-elevation species. My team did not win, but I think it is worth listing the results of the winning team. Includes species heard as well as seen. My typos.

Striated Heron
Little Egret
Intermediate Egret
Malayan Night-heron
Black-naped Night-heron
Spot-billed Duck
Taiwan Besra
Crested Goshawk
Grey-faced Buzzard
Black-eared Eagle
Oriental Honey-buzzard
Crested Serpent-eagle
Peregrine Falcon
Taiwan Partridge
Taiwan Bamboo-Partridge
White-breasted Waterhen
Common Moorhen
Little Ringed Plover
Green Sandpiper
Rock Dove
Collared Dove.
Oriental Turtle-dove
Red Collared Dove
White-bellied Green Pigeon
Himalayan Cuckoo
Large Hawk Cuckoo
Pygmy Owlet
Mountain Scops Owl
Savana Nightjar
House Swift
Silver-backed Needletail
Common Kingfisher
Taiwan Barbet
Gray-faced Woodpecker
Grey-capped Woodpecker
White-backed Woodpecker
Grey-faced Woodpecker
Oriental Skylark
Asian House-Martin
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Pacific Swallow
Brown-throated Sand-Martin
Grey-throated Minivet
Bronzed Drongo
Black Drongo
Large-billed Crow
Himalayan Treepie
Eurasian Jay
Netcracker
Vinous-throated Parrotbill
Black-throated Tit
Coal Tit
Taiwan Tit
Green-backed Tit
Nuthatch
Taiwan Fulvetta
Dusky Fulvetta
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta
Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush
Taiwan Hwamei
White-whiskered Laughingthrush
Rusty Laughingthrush
Taiwan Sibia
Taiwan Liochicla
Taiwan Cupwing
Black-necklaced Scimitar-babbler
Taiwan Scimitar Babbler
Rufous-capped Babbler
Taiwan Yuhinia
Black Bulbul
Light-vented Bulbul
Collared Finchbill
Shortwing
Taiwan Whistling Thrush
White-tailed Robin
Plumbeous Redstart
White-browed Bush-robin
Collared Bush-robin
Red-bellied Thrush
Rufous-faced Warbler
Taiwan Bush-warbler
Yellow-bellied Bush-warbler
Strong-footed Bush-warbler
Striated Prinia
Plain Prinia
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Flamecrest
Black-naped Monarch
Vivid Niltava
White Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Brown Shrike
White-vented Myna
Plain Flowerpecker
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker
Japanese White-eye
Scaly-breasted Munia
White-rumped Munia
Vinaceous (Taiwan) Rosefinch
Grey Bullfinch
Tree Sparrow
...and good birdy conversations.

Also, more than one other team reported these species:
Mikado Pheasant, Swinhoe’s Pheasant, Little Forktail, Tawny Owl, Ferruginous Flycatcher, Taiwan Barwing, White-browed Shortwing, White-bellied Erponis.

New Bird (for me):

Gray-headed Bullfinch    Pyrrhula erythaca    "Endemic subspecies (P. e. owstoni)"

Monday, April 2, 2012

Maolin


March 31st

Was pleased to have another day birding in this southern valley that gets more attention for its wintering butterflies than equally good low to mid elevation birds. I hope the nearby mid-high elevation Tengjhih FRA will soon reopen (currently possible to travel the road up there to the neighboring area).

Taiwan Barbet
I can confidently recommend the De-en Gorge Homestay and campground run by the aboriginal Chen Family. Mr Chen senior is a retired school teacher, and does much for the local community and environment. His son ‘Big Head’, is completing a masters degree in ecotourism, he can introduce the local insects/spiders/botany in English. His birding skills are improving in leaps and bounds. He can be contacted at 0989579751 or yammjuin@gmail.com.

The homestay is located on the south side of the main Maolin Valley, near a smaller river. After driving through the main Maolin Village, turn right at the fire station, cross the river and turn left.

These birds were seen from  the 4km long surfaced loop trail behind their guesthouse.

Black-naped Monarch
Black Bulbul
Light-vented Bulbul
Taiwan Barbet
Besra
Yellow-browed Warbler
Brown-headed Thrush
Black-eared Kite
Maroon Oriole
Treepie
Crested Serpent Eagle
Rufous-capped Babbler
Taiwan Blue Magpie
Oriental Honey-buzzard
Japanese White-eye
Collared Finchbill
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta
Taiwan Scimitar Babbler
Bronzed Drongo
White-rumped Munia
House Swift
Grey-capped Woodpecker
Olive-backed Pipit
Grey-chinned Minivet

Heard only, or unconfirmed visual:
Bamboo Partridge, Barred Buttonquail, Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babbler, Savanna Nightjar.

Other:
Muntjac (Barking Deer). Well heard
Formosan Macaque (Monkey). Several seen.
...and lots of smaller delights!

New Birds:

Brown-headed Thrush    Turdus chrysolaus

http://9.blog.xuite.net/9/0/7/b/23168280/blog_2255264/txt/38517716/0.jpg

Dasyueshan


A two-night trip to Dasyueshan (大雪山, sometimes described as ‘Anmashan’ in foreign birding reports) did not disappoint. It is probably Taiwan’s best birding destination - good infrastructure, and a good range of habitats hold most of the endemics.

Swinhoe's Pheasant
The normal route starts at kilometer mark zero at Dongshr Town (東勢, about 300 meters elevation) in Taichung County and ends at the Tienchr Pond (2600 m elev) near the 50 km mark. Most birders stay at the Forestry Bureau-run lodge (Anmashan) at KM 43. Additional accommodation options at Dongshr, lower elevations, and possibly the recently renovated cabin at km 50.


Excellent options for hiking. The main road is popular with fit road cyclists.

Notable birding locations this trip:

Hwamei and Striated Prinia near bridge at km 4.
Various low elevation species on right-hand lane near km 7
Brown Dipper and Striated Heron at stream on right-hand road at km 15 (turn before the police station).
Rusty Laughingthrush near the Swinhoe's Pheasant spot at km 23 (had great views of Swinhoe’s and Taiwan Partridge 4-6pm).
Cupwing heard on Forest Trail #210, just after the toll station at km34.
Little Forktail at stream crossing road at around 42 km mark.
Various good birds around/below the Anmashan accommodation/restaurant.
Mikado Pheasant at their (heavily photographed) spot at km 47, 2-4pm. Also had great views of male Mikado on the picturesque forest trail (via ‘small sacred tree’) that starts below the accommodation area.
Flamecrest  and other good stuff on the quiet Forest Road that starts behind the restaurant at the 50km mark.

Hard to criticize Dasyueshan, but you really need your own transport, to get there, and between birding locations. Food at the main accommodation area can be hit and miss for foreign palates. Tip: try to eat dinner early at Anmashan - food much better. Finding the start of the Dasyueshan road at Dongshr can be tricky. From Fongyuan. Freeway follow #3 east, then #8 south skirting the town. Turn left and then right around a red-brick forestry building. Road 'scruffy' and urban for the first couple kilometers. Last 7-11 is here.

Birds seen:
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta
Plain Prinia
Striated Prinia
Common Kingfisher
Spot-billed Duck
Light-vented Bulbul
Little Egret
Tree Sparrow
Taiwan Hwamei
Taiwan Scimitar Babbler
Taiwan Barbet
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Black-naped Monarch
Collared Finchbill
Rufous-capped Babbler
Crested Serpent Eagle
Japanese White-eye
Black Drongo
Bronzed Drongo
Scaly-breasted Munia
White-bellied Erponis
Brown Dipper
Spotted-necked Dove
Feral Rock Dove
Eurasian Nuthatch
Ashy Wood-pigeon
Red-collared Dove
Rusty Laughingthursh
Swinhoe’s Pheasant
Large-billed Crow
Green-backed Tit
Little Forktail
White-backed Woodpecker
Black-throated Tit
Taiwan Bush-warbler
Striated Heron
White-tailed Robin
Taiwan Liocicla
Vivid Nilitivia
White-eared Sibia
Rufous-faced Warbler
White-bellied Pigeon
White-whiskered Laughingthrush
Oriental Turtle Dove
Grey-throated Minivet
Coal Tit
Eurasian Nutcracker
White-browed Bush-robin
Collared Bush-robin
Yellow-bellied Bush-warbler
Streak-throated (Taiwan) Fulvetta
Eurasian Jay
Flamecrest
Mikado Pheasant
House Swift
Taiwan Barwing
Taiwan Yellow Tit
Yuhinia
Plumbeous Water-redstart
Grey Wagtail
White-bellied Munia
Myna sp
Black Bulbul

Birds heard only:

Taiwan Pygmy Wren-babbler (Taiwan Cupwing)
Black-necklaced Scrimitar Babbler
Collared Owlet
Grey-faced Woodpecker
Brown-flanked Bush-warbler
Mountain Scops-owl

Birds reported by others those days - but sadly NOT recorded by us. Grrr...not complaining!

Taiwan Bamboo-Partridge
Grey-capped Woodpecker
Vinaceous Rosefinch
White-throated Laughingthrush
Himalayan Cuckoo
Dusky Fulvetta
White-browed Shortwing
Snowy-browed Flycatcher
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker
Brown Shrike
Varied Tit
Grey-headed Bullfinch

Other creatures:

Formosan Serow. Seen in spotlight below road,west of Anmashan
Muntjac (Barking Deer). Several heard at several locations.
Formosan Macaque (Monkey). Several well seen.
Formosan Striped Squirrel. Several well seen at pheasant feeding sites.
Owston’s Long-nosed Tree Squirrel. A couple seen in broadleaf forest. Also possible Red-bellied.
White-faced Flying Squirrel. Several well seen near Anmashan.
Formosan Giant Flying Squirrel. Probable sighting below Anmashan workers’ dormitories.
Weasel Mustela sibirica taivana. Glimpsed below dormitories, Anmashan.
Formosan Sanbar. Footprints near 50km area.
Cicada, Bats, Butterflies...

New Birds:

Eurasian Nutcracker    Nucifraga caryocatactes    "Endemic subspecies (N. c. owstoni)"
Taiwan Bush-Warbler    Bradypterus alishanensis    Endemic species
Mikado Pheasant    Syrmaticus mikado    Endemic species

http://www.xmart.tw/FORMOSA/blog_echo.php?TopicID=2047

Birding Tour

Taiwan Blue Magpie
I spent 10 wonderful days guiding delightful Australian/NZ birders to a variety of birding locations around Taiwan. A total of around 150  species were seen properly without playback. A few others were only heard, or not identified with 100% confidence.

The route took us from Taipei to coastal Yilan, Hualien/Taroko Gorge, into the high mountains around Hehuan and Wushe, before ever-rewarding Dasyueshan, and a bonus day in Maolin Valley.

See next 2 posts for Dasyueshan and Maolin.

Lanyang (Yilan) Rivermouth produced Japanese Cormorant. Best access is from the southern side.

New Birds in northeastern Taiwan:

Japanese Cormorant    Phalacrocorax capillatus
Chinese Goshawk    Accipiter soloensis
Rough-legged Hawk    Buteo lagopus
Manchurian Bush-Warbler    Cettia canturians
Golden-headed Cisticola    Cisticola exilis    "Endemic subspecies (C. e. volitans)"

Smangus

March 18/19th

Smangus (or Sih-ma-ku-sa, 司馬庫斯) is one of the remotest aboriginal communities in Taiwan. They are well known for their kibbutz-like communal lifestyle, and the grove of ancient Taiwan cypress trees a 2-3 hour hike from the village. Located deep in Hsinchu County, if going there (no public transport) be prepared for long twisting roads. Good accommodation options available. A top spot.

Taiwan Firecrest. Source - see below.
A window of warm and dry weather meant that several good mid-elevation species were seen - mostly near the village and on the scenic path to the big trees. Swinhoe’s Pheasant, Flamecrest, Green-backed Tit, Rufous-faced Babbler, Crested Serpent Eagle, Jay, Grey-faced Fulvetta, Liocichla, Black-throated Tit, White-tailed Robin, Yuhina, Sibia, Taiwan Tit,  and a yet-to-be identified medium-sized brown chap.

The only new bird was a glimpse of the endemic Taiwan Pygmy Wren Babbler on the trail to the, otherwise mediocre, ‘Eco-garden’. Note the new name and family Taiwan Cupwing.

New Bird:

Taiwan Wren-Babbler (Taiwan Cupwing)    Pnoepyga formosana    Endemic species

http://blog.xuite.net/canon600a/blog/43487274

Wulai



Maroon Oriole. Source below.
The warm weather brought out the birds in Wulai - but thankfully not too many people on St Patrick's Day. I was guiding some (not into early starts, or roughing it too much) bird photographers.

Wulai (烏來) is in a valley surrounded by high, well-forested, mountains less than an an hour south of Taipei. Usually excellent for self-guided forest birding. From Xindian (Sindian) MRT station take the bus to Wulai Village. If on foot, enter the busy village, as soon as you cross the narrow bridge turn left towards signposted Xiaoyi. After 100 meters you will be away from any weekend crowds. Either follow this road as far as you wish, or vere right uphill through the graveyard.

The road continues east toward Xiaoyi, alongside and across the Tonghou Stream.
 
The only new birds for me were the Black-throated Laughingthrush - an established escapee and the Japanese Bush-warbler. Other birds seen well included Formosan Magpie, Taiwan Scimitar Babbler, Varied Tit, Large-billed Crow, Rufous-capped Babbler, Maroon Oriole, Grey-throated Minivet, White-bellied Erponis, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Plumbaceous Redstart, Crested Goshawk, Crested Serpent Eagle, Japanese White-eye, Black Bulbul, and Grey Treepie.

After Wulai and the Tonghou Stream, I reccommend taking the road south towards Fushan. After the minature railway and waterfall, cross the suspension bridge to the walking trail on the other side of the river that leads to Neidong Forest. Can be a good area for the Varied Tit.


New Birds:

Black-throated Laughingthrush Garrulax chinensis
Japanese Bush-Warbler    Cettia diphone

http://blog.yam.com/phdwhite/article/5926397

Snow Mountain

March 14th

A heavy pack (was acting as mule) and atrocious weather on the first day and a half meant almost no birds or birding. The summit/descent day was wonderful - for weather, birds, and scenery.

Taiwan Rosefinch.



http://focus16.com/bird/2008-03-15%20Alishan/slides/IMG_3887.html
Lots of good high elevation species (Yuhina, Collared Bush-robin, White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Vinaceous (now Taiwan) Rosefinch, Yellow-bellied Bush-warbler, Striated Prinia etc).

Several Coal Tits were found just below the glacial cirque. Taiwan Bush Warbler were singing (not seen) in the forest just above the trailhead at Wuling Farm.

New Bird:

Coal Tit    Periparus ater    "Endemic subspecies (P. a. ptilosus)"

Taroko Again


Good grounds, small pond, farmland everywhere.
The grounds of TaiwanEcotours new lodge in Taroko were busy with bird life on March 11th. Unfortunately, due to hyperactive hikers, I didn’t have time (maybe will next week) to do a proper accounting.

Other good places to explore near Taroko and Hualien:

The south side of Hualien River Mouth, and nearby road #193 km mark 23 - 30.
Good road leads out to point with good
views over the estuary.


Also Fenglin Forest Trail, and Liyu (Carp) Lake. More later!


New Bird:

Chestnut Munia    Lonchura atricapilla